Why I joined Path 1

Motu (Class XI, 2018-19) explains why he joined Path 1.

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To answer that, let me go back to June 2016, when I spent quite a few evenings with Sir, working on designing the five pre-primary apps that our school made.

It was a great time. We discussed, debated and felt intellectually challenged. Whenever we hit a roadblock, Sir was always ready with a solution. We took just an evening each to design each of these apps. We then got them coded, and very soon we could see the fruits of our work inside the baby classrooms. It felt very satisfying that we identified a problem, quickly designed a technological solution, and very soon our product is being used on a daily basis.

I read in many articles (particularly in Philosopher’s mail) that it is very difficult in the modern world to see the connection between what you do in your office, and the final product that your company produces. That seemed scary. In future, I wanted to do something that has a more direct impact.

In our school, I have always been involved in various kinds of work. I helped out during the contest week and sports days. I talked to the parents to explain our school’s apps. I fixed many technological issues in the computer lab. I worked on and tested many of the apps that the school produced. I loved working on all of those, because I could see how they are immediately useful. I wanted to continue to do work that’s relevant and useful.

Our school taught us a lot of relevant and useful stuff. We learnt to speak well. From an early age, we learnt to navigate internet and use MS Office. We learnt a lot from the movies shown in the school. We learnt from books like Sapiens. We learnt to concisely write while using Twitter. Every activity in the school helped us grow and mature.

However, of late, after reaching class IX, I felt it was not the same as before. We had to study ‘subjects’ which are not immediately relevant. Even history, one of my most loved subjects, became one of the hated due to the invasion of textbooks. In our school, economics was about explaining real-life issues, but in the board exam we are asked to define ‘unemployment’ or ‘GDP’.

Please do not misunderstand — even those boring, irrelevant stuff was taught very well by Sir. He made those as interesting as possible. He even tried to give inventive reasons why we must learn those: ‘Real life is boring, so these textbooks are a preparation for that’, or ‘Learning this obscure math will sharpen your mind and improve your focus, which is useful for other activities.’

But as much as he tried, I knew I liked the relevant learning far more than the textbook learning. Prodded relentlessly by Sir, we all did well in the board exams, but I wanted to get back to our old life where learning was connected to real-life. I did not want many more years of textbook driven learning, which would be exactly what’s on offer if I had chosen Path 2.

I wanted to get back to organizing events, designing apps, learning to speak in front of an audience, reading great books. I wanted to get started on real life sooner. I did not want to waste time reading stuff you have no use for.

In case you are thinking that in Path 2, in the Western universities, learning will be totally relevant, you are probably wrong. Even the Cambridge board, which has a more modern syllabus than the Indian boards, is still focused on subjects most people will not use. There are no courses in most boards or universities on the skills that’s most needed in life: speaking, writing, coding, working with people.

So I will get started on working early, doing a degree from University of London after my 12th, sitting right here, working part-time for the school. I regret the fact that I still have to do this degree, which I know will add nothing to me in terms of learning (neither will any other degree that most of you will be doing).

But our society has not yet advanced enough to accept something as radical as not doing graduation! So useless as it is, I will go forward with it. At least it gives me a chance to devote most of my time to the school, learning real stuff by working.

The only thing I may still be interested in studying for is programming. Our school automates a lot of stuff through technology, and I have been part of that initiative in the past. In future too, I would like to be part of that effort. However, making software will be far easier if we ourselves can code. So that’s one skill I want to study for.

Sir tells me that there are 12-week long coding boot camps in California where we might go after we finish A level board exams. That will be an exciting thing to learn, and I am sure it will be quite useful for the school too.

Overall, I am quite happy that I have chosen this path where my work will be relevant and useful, where I will not waste many years of my life pursuing a useless degree, but where I would still continue to learn at a fast pace.